Law enforcement in Missouri, just like any other community, is tasked with enforcing laws that maintain public order. Certain activities and conduct, therefore, are considered crimes and can be prosecuted as disorderly conduct. Typically, these charges involve individuals accused of causing a disturbance or engaging in conduct likely to result in a non-peaceful event.
Under Missouri law, there are a number of disorderly conduct crimes classified under “Offenses Against Public Order.” These crimes can include a range of public safety violations, including:
- Peace disturbance – Disturbing the peace is a common phrase used to describe a disorderly conduct offense. In Missouri, a peace disturbance is defined as knowingly and unreasonable disturbing or alarming others by various means, including loud noise, arguments and offensive language, threats to commit a felony against another person, fighting, creating an offensive odor, and unlawfully occupying public or private property while physically obstructing others. As a Class B misdemeanor for a first-time offense, convicted individuals can face penalties that include up to six months imprisonment and up to $500 in fines. A second offense is elevated to a Class A misdemeanor, and third or subsequent conviction results in a minimum $1,000 fine.
- Private peace disturbance – Missouri classifies peace disturbance offenses as a separate crime when it occurs on private property and through threats or fighting. This offense is a Class C misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine up to $300 and up to 15 days imprisonment.
In addition to peace disturbance offenses, Missouri also enforces laws for other disorderly conduct, such as:
- Public drunkenness or drinking in places where alcohol consumption is prohibited
- Disturbing a house of worship
- Unlawful assembly or refusal to disperse
- Promoting civil disorder
- Making terrorist threats
Understanding Penalties & Consequences
Penalties for disorderly conduct are a matter unique to each and every case, as factors such as the nature of the charge, age of offender, criminal history, and location where an offense takes place can all impact the severity of criminal penalties. For instance, prior convictions can result in elevated charges and penalties. Additionally, while many disorderly conduct charges are prosecuted as misdemeanors, some – including terrorist threats – can be grounds for felony charges.
Whatever charges you or a loved one face for a disorderly conduct offense, you must be aware that serious penalties, including hefty fines and possible terms of imprisonment can result. In some cases, particularly those involve prior convictions, multiple charges, and felony allegations, the penalties drastically threaten your freedom and future. Convictions of this nature are also typically viewed unfavorably by potential employers, which can hurt your chances of securing gainful employment.
Because there is a lot on the line when you have been charged with a disorderly conduct offense, working with an experienced lawyer is one of the most important things you can do. As former prosecutors who know how Missouri laws are enforced and prosecuted, our lawyers can leverage their insight to help you pursue the most favorable outcome possible – including mitigated charges and penalties, diversion, or dismissals. To discuss your options and how we can help, contact us for a FREE consultation.